The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) works in partnership with all 72 Wisconsin counties each winter to ensure the safest conditions possible. It’s a unique relationship in which county personnel and equipment are used to plow and treat 35,000 lane miles of state and interstate highways.
While any winter creates unknowns that underscore the need for planning, the ongoing pandemic places an extra emphasis on health and safety for winter maintenance professionals throughout the 2020-21 season. WisDOT has been coordinating with all 72 counties to help share information and ideas that aid in the planning process.
This winter, as in the past, WisDOT will use media outreach and social media to emphasize highway safety messaging with key points being the following. All counties are asked to consider this messaging as part of communications with staff, constituents and the traveling public.
- Health and safety of plow operators is a key consideration, as driving a plow is complex work that requires practice and training. It’s important that operators remain as fit for duty as possible throughout winter.
- All maintenance teams are asked to limit contact during shift changes and expand equipment cleaning procedures where possible.
- WisDOT has communicated with neighboring states to expand thinking and best practices for consideration in individual county action plans.
- Every effort is being made at the state and county levels to continue with normal winter operations. Each county has looked at contingency possibilities including but not limited to working with retired drivers or other well-qualified individuals on an as-needed basis.
- Winter maintenance planning efforts include staffing (ex. loading trucks, maintaining supplies such as salt and salt brine, equipment maintenance, keeping roadside facilities in operation and continuing day to day maintenance activities.
- WisDOT will coordinate with other in-state resources for assistance in filling any service gaps that arise.
- Service priority in the event of unresolved issues will focus on busiest and most traveled roads first, primarily the interstate system.
Stay safe on the highways
As with any winter, drivers are encouraged to review 511wi.gov travel conditions as well as local forecasts whenever they venture out in the winter months. Additional safety messaging is published in real time on the highway Dynamic Message Signs.
- Always limit driving in a severe weather event, for your own safety and that of winter maintenance staff.
- While the teams can never fully promise a timeline on achieving bare/wet driving conditions, we continue to promise a dedication to safety leveraging available resources in the most effective way possible.
- Review WisDOT’s safe winter driving resources to refresh on the basics about giving extra time and keeping certain emergency supplies on hand.